ALReturnsLOL: Itís often pretty clichť to say ďafter doing such and such I totally changed the way I thought about pokerĒ I will take the risk of sounding cheesy though. This interview changed how I thought about and played poker. To the extent that I was somewhat torn about posting it. I will be the first to tell you that Noel (Newt Buggs) worked his ass off on this interview. Not only does he have a great poker mind, but he is a genuinely nice guy. I think the forum will really benefit from this. So I would kindly ask that if you enjoy this give Noel a big thanks ! Now sit back relax and let Newt give you insights to one of the best SNG players out there. Also look out because Apathy and Bonafone are next and they have some great insight as well.
Newt Buggs Profile.
Name: Noel S.
Location: Southern California.
Site of Preference: Party Poker
Stakes and Number of tables: Mostly 215's speeds with some 530's and 109's mixed in. For the most part 8 tables.
A: Could you give us a history of how you started playing poker?
NB: I'm not sure where to start really.
My dad taught my brother and I how to play various forms of poker when I was around 5 but that obviously wasn't too serious. About two years ago my brother taught me how to play NL holdem and I started messing around with that in play money. I deposited about $30 on UB and messed around in cash games, SNGs, and MTTs and pretty quickly built it up to around $1500. At that point I decided to try out Party SNGs and was amazed at how bad the players were. I started out single tableing the $11s and gradually moved up one limit at a time and added one table at a time until I was 8 tableing the $215s under the old structure.
A: So you basically picked up on how to beat all those limits by yourself?
NB: Yes. Well, I mean, Iíve discussed plenty of strategy with others, but I'm pretty much self taught.
A: What do you mean we you say that you prefer group study in poker?
NB: I mean that instead of hiring a coach, I think that for many people it is much more cost effective to simply find other serious players at your level to teach each other for free. Find another player or get a small group together to exchange hand histories with and discuss strategy. You won't get advice that is as good as you could get from hiring a coach, but chances are the difference isn't great enough to justify the high cost of a coach. Though Iím sure it depends on the player though. I'm sure coaching is a good option for some players.
A: A lot of young pros are decided to drop out of college, you went against the tide and decided to stay.
What was your motivation for staying in school?
NB: Well, I will admit that if I was a year or two younger that probably isn't true. If I was just finishing up my 1st year of college instead of 3rd year I would probably drop out. Though the main reason is that I enjoy school and have no desire to play a ton of poker. College has helped keep my life balanced and meet plenty of interesting people that I wouldn't have met otherwise.
A: Would you say itís hard to balance college life, poker, and social life?
NB: Yes, I don't have enough hours in the day to do everything that I want. Which is the main drawback. Usually one of the three ends up getting sacrificed at certain times. The lost EV from midterms and finals when I don't have time to play much is usually several thousand dollars.
A: Many young players see the forums top pros: you, Bonafone, Apathy, etc etc. And want instant poker gratification.
What kind of work did you put in that people donít see?
NB: There probably aren't many players that spend as much time studying the game as I do. I didn't just work hard on improving my game as I was rising to the higher stakes games, even today I take studying the game very seriously and make every effort to become the best player that I can be.
A: How does a player of your caliber improve?
NB: Almost everyone has leaks and makes mistakes. Even many of the 530 have pros have serious problems in their games. The main method of improving is reducing those mistakes and finding more ways to exploit the leaks of others. No matter how good anyone is there is always weaknesses in their game that can be improved and better ways to take advantage of their opponents.
A: How do you find these leaks?
NB: Talking to other good players and to a certain extent studying your own game. I think that it varies depending on player. The lower stakes players tend to have leaks that they don't notice and need someone else to point them out. I feel like most of my mistakes are from me doing thing that I should know not to do but for whatever I'm not thinking clearly.
A: Is there a underground society of young players that discuss secret strategy via AIM?
NB: Not really.
A: Don't lie to me.
NB:Haha, I mean of course many of the players discuss strategy over AIM. But, its nothing super special.
A: What advice would you give to the low stakes player who wanted to be the next Newt Buggs.
NB: Grind less, study more. You can't improve your game off of practice alone. You will simply continue making the same mistakes over and over again without realizing it.
A: What kind of summer plans does a high roller like yourself have?
NB: I'm not sure yet, whatever sounds like fun. I'm not old enough to play but I'll stop by Vegas during the WSOP to hang out with everyone who will be there. I'll probably spend a while in Yosemite Valley rock climbing as well. It will also be nice to just hang out here around San Diego and have fun with friends while enjoying the weather and beach.
A : In Indianaís Gift to the Forum you made a comment about making a re-steal after an initial raiser and a cold caller.
A: Can you explain what a re-steal is and when a good time to use it would be?
NB: I can't remember the specific hand, but in general a re-steal is a reraise with a less than premium hand over an initial raiser that is likely on a wide hand range
NB: A good time to use it is whenever you suspect that an opponent will call a reraise with only a small % of the hands that are in his inital raising hand range
A: What buy-in would you recommend starting to use this?
NB: Any buy-in, but you will find more opportunities at the higher buy-ins as there are more tight aggressive players who will raise a wider range than average but call a re-raise with a smaller range than average.
A: Can we look at a few hands real fast?
A:This hand deals with a semi-bluff.
PokerStars Tournament, Big Blind is t200 (6 handed) Converter on pregopoker.com
NB: Haha, I don't even know where to start with that question.
No move is needed but if you want to make money I would recommend taking any edge that you can find. Basically, if you want to maximize your ROI then yes, every move such as that is needed.
A:Heh, this hand is pretty boring. You have any cool ones?
NB Sure, I thought this one was kind of interesting
Total number of players : 4 Seat 1: BusterT (2720) Seat 8:Dr. Rambler (10040) Seat 9: Donkoholic (4250) Seat 10: cjturk (2990) Dr Rambler posts small blind (200) Donkoholic posts big blind (400) ** Dealing down cards ** Dealt to Donkoholic [ 10 , J ] cjturk folds. BusterT folds. Dr Rambler raises (600) to 800 Donkoholic calls (400) ** Dealing Flop ** : [ A , A, 4 ] Dr Rambler bets (1382) Donkoholic raises (3450) to 3450 Donkoholic is all-In. Dr Rambler folds.
NB: Just because it looks kind of suicidal.
NB: Dr Rambler is likely on a very wide range hand here as he should be. Since heís the big stack and I'm a mid stack on the bubble. I suspected that he only mini-raised since he probably correctly figured that most people are going to just fold and will only play back with a very strong hand. So basically he's probably assuming that a mini-raise is fine because most players that give him much action will be doing so because they have a very strong hand. So knowing that he is on such a wide hand range, getting 3:1 on the call, and having position I decide to call.
NB The flop looks like a very standard c-bet, as he probably should be doing. Against the average player he would probably be correct to bet any two on this flop as most players will have missed and simply fold to avoid busting as the mid stack on the bubble.
NB: However, lets recap, he's mini-raising almost every hand here preflop, and on this flop he's c-betting just about every hand. Which means that right now his hand range is just about any two. This means that the chance that he can call if I push is very small. And yes when I do get called its really going to suck, but that won't happen nearly enough to make up for the 3,000 chips that I pick up the rest of the time.
A: You think he bets with an ace there?
NB: He might bet with an ace, he might not. I donít know the exact player well enough to say that, but I bet on a dry board like that I can see many players checking an ace. Which makes a push even more attractive. Since the fact that he is betting reduces the chance that he has trips.
A: So if he checks you push?
NB: If checks i would be kind of confused and I'm not sure what I would do. Since I would expect an solid aggressive player like this to bet out here. If he had checked I would have most likely checked behind against him.
A: well can apply this at low stakes also?
NB Yes, definitely. It doesn't matter if you're playing the best pro in the world or a complete fish, you can still put people on hand ranges and act accordingly.
A: I thought this hand was very interesting. Curtains is the hero. What do you think?
PartyPoker $215 Regular Tournament, Big Blind is t40 (10 handed) Converter on pregopoker.com
NB: I would have played this hand the same way on every street.
Preflop: curtains_ calls  Some high stakes players will say that you have to open it up for a raise here and sometimes I will, but I see nothing wrong with just calling. Most players are playing fairly tight in level one and the reason why I won't always raise this is that it has a tendency to force out most of the hands that AQ dominates while always getting action from the hands that you are behind. Limping encourages the players behind you to enter in the pot with hands like AT, KQ and potentially lose a significant number of chips if they make a dominated top pair. A raise will tighten up your opponents though and encourage them to correctly fold these dominated hands. Once again, I have no problem with opening for a raise here with a strong hand like AQs and I sometimes will, but I believe that both plays are reasonable.
RicoxSuave17 raises  We haven't reached the flop of a single hand with this player and I already have too important pieces of information on my opponent: -He is a 215 player that I do not recognize -He is miniraising behind a limper in level 1.
In over 10,000 SNGs I have never seen a good player mini-raise behind a limper in level 1. Both of these observations indicate that rico is a weaker player. This will be in the back of my mind during all decisions on the future streets.
Flop: It is usually standard to check this flop to induce a continuation bet out of the preflop raiser.
RicoxSuave17 bets  This bet makes no sense with any hand that he can have. He either has a strong hand that he wants to protect on this Qc9c board by betting strong (think AQ or KK) or he has a weak or drawing hand that he should either bluff with strong or check behind with to try and get a free card (think AcJc, JJ). He just dropped another hint that he is a weaker player
curtains_ raises  This is a standard checkraise as we have a strong hand that we want to get more chips in the pot with.
Turn: That was an ugly card. We have already shown some significant strength with the turn check so betting out here will probably fold every hand that we have beat. Most of the hands that are beating us will not fold either. I would definitely check and decide what to do after I see how he responds.
River: I once again I prefer to check here rather than bet out. Even a bad player will have a hard time calling with a worse hand and I am certainly not folding out a pair of kings or better. Checking gives him the option to bluff, and some players, especially weaker ones which I highly suspect this guy is, will check behind with a bare king and give me a free showdown.
His weak bet is an obvious call as it is too small to even consider folding too and there is no reason to raise.
A: How many tables do you play In general?
NB: 8 speeds continuously.
A: And all this stuff runs through your head while you do that?
NB: Yes, even though I'm 8 tabeling I don't play like a bot at all, I'm constantly trying to evaluate every situation and think things through. It doesn't matter if you're playing the best pro in the world or a complete fish, you can still put people on hand ranges and act accordingly.
A: How do you deal with variance?
NB: The best way that I have found to deal with variance is to try and ignore short term results. It's very tempting to check your stats and results every day which I am guilty of doing myself sometimes but I feel that this is a good habit to break. Anyone's day to day results are almost meaningless and focusing on them will just cause added stress.
My biggest problem with variance is that it clouds my true ROI at each buyin. It takes an enormous sample size at two buyins to know which one you are the most profitable at. If you aren't a big winner at a level then it is extreemly costly to find this out by grinding out a large enough sample size.
It's good to hear that you guys liked it. Sorry about all of the grammar mistakes and incoherent sentences. Most of the interview was done over AIM and I didn't have a chance to proofread it.
Quote: Turn: That was an ugly card. We have already shown some significant strength with the flop checkraise so betting out here will probably fold every hand that we have beat. Most of the hands that are beating us will not fold either. I would definitely check and decide what to do after I see how he responds.